History of Cork
Motto: Statio Bene Fide Carinis
“A Safe Harbour for Ships”
County Cork is often referred to as The Rebel County as a result of support from the townsmen of Cork in 1491 for Perkin Warbeck, a pretender to the throne of England during the Wars of the Roses. But more recently and more commonly attributed to the prominent role Cork played in the Irish War of Independence (1919–1921).
Cork has its beginnings as a monastic settlement, founded by St Finbar in the 6th century. However, ancestors of the modern city say it was founded between 915 and 922 A.D. when Viking settlers established a trading outpost there. The Viking leader Ottir Iarla is particularly associated with many raiding conquests in the area we now call Munster. The Cogad Gáedel re Gallaib, a medieval Irish Text, connects this area with the earliest Viking settlement of Cork.
In the 12th century, this settlement was taken over by invading Anglo-Norman settlers. These Norsemen of Cork fought against the Norman invaders mounting an expedition of 32 ships against them in 1173. After the defeat to the Norman’s, Cork’s city charter was granted by Prince John in 1185.
Much of what is now county Cork was once part of the Kingdom of Deas Mumhan (today covering much of South Munster), which was anglicised as “Desmond” and ruled by the MacCarthy Mór dynasty. After the Norman Invasion in the 12th century, the McCarthy clan were pushed westward into what is now West Cork and County Kerry. Dunlough Castle, standing just north of Mizen Head, is one of the oldest castles in Ireland originating from 1207 A.D. The north and east of Cork were taken over by the Hiberno-Norman FitzGerald dynasty.
For much of the Middle Ages, Cork city was an outpost of Old English culture in the midst of a predominantly hostile Gaelic countryside and cut off from the English government in the Pale of Dublin. Neighbouring Gaelic and Hiberno-Norman lords extorted “Black Rent” from the citizens to keep them from attacking the city. At that time, the Cork municipal government was dominated by about 12–15 merchant families, whose wealth came from overseas trade with continental Europe – in particular the export of wool and hides and the import of salt, iron and wine. Of these families, only the Ronayne family were of Gaelic Irish origin.
The medieval population of Cork was about 2,000 people. It suffered a severe blow in 1349 when almost half the townspeople died of bubonic plague when the Black Death arrived in the town. In 1491 Cork played a part in the English Wars of the Roses when Perkin Warbeck, a pretender to the English throne, landed in the city and tried to recruit support for a plot to overthrow Henry VII of England. The mayor of Cork and several important citizens went with Warbeck to England but when the rebellion collapsed they were all captured and executed. Hence, Cork’s nickname of the “Rebel City” is said to originate from these events.
A description of Cork written in 1577 speaks of the city as, “the fourth city of Ireland” that is, “so encumbered with evil neighbours, the Irish outlaws, that they are fayne to watch their gates hourly…they trust not the country adjoining [and only marry within the town] so that the whole city is linked to each other in affinity“.
Cork and the Munster Plantation
The Munster plantation (1583 – 1597) was the result of the Second Desmond Rebellion of 1579 – 1583 . It was a revolt by Gerald Fitzgerald, the Earl of Desmond, against the English state’s interference in his territory. After four years, the war was brought to an exhausted end by the relentless use of scorched earth tactics of the English and their local allies. Led by the Lord Deputy Grey and the Earl of Ormonde they destroyed arable land and seized and killed livestock. In November 1583, Gerald Fitzgerald, the Earl of Desmond, was hunted down and killed in the Slieve Mish mountains in Kerry. His head was sent to Queen Elizabeth. His body was triumphantly displayed on the walls of Cork.
In the wake of Desmond wars, the English were determined to break up those Irish lordships whose command of thousands of dependents or ‘followers’ and hundreds of armed retainers made them an unacceptable security risk to the expanding English state in Ireland.
The Lord Deputy Henry Sidney, for example, in 1583, advised “the dissipation of the great lordships; if among the English the better, if not, yet that they be dissipated”. In the future, English policy in Munster would be dominated by the desire to dismantle the Gaelic Irish lordships.
In 1601, the decisive Battle of Kinsale took place in County Cork, which was to inevitably lead to English domination of Ireland for centuries. Kinsale is historically remembered as to where the fleet of Spanish troops landed to help the Irish rebels during the Nine Years’ War (1594–1603), this period of Irish history is referred to as when the Ulster Plantation to place. When this force was defeated, the rebel hopes for victory in the war were all but ended, county Cork was officially created by a division of the older County Desmond in 1606, and to this day has led to the escalation of the troubles between the English and Irish for centuries to come.
In the 19th century, Cork was a center for the Fenians and for the constitutional nationalism of the Irish Parliamentary Party. The county was a hotbed of guerrilla activity during the Irish War of Independence (1919–1921). Three Cork Brigades of the Irish Republican Army (IRA) operated in the county and another in the city. Prominent battles included the Kilmichael Ambush in November 1920 and the Crossbarry Ambush in March 1921. The activity of IRA flying columns, such as the one under Tom Barry in west Cork, was popularised in the Ken Loach film The Wind That Shakes The Barley. On 11 December 1920 Cork City centre was gutted by fires started by the Black and Tans in reprisal for IRA attacks. Over 300 buildings were destroyed, many other towns and villages around the county suffered a similar fate including Fermoy.
During the Irish Civil War (1922–23), most of the IRA units in Cork sided against the Anglo-Irish Treaty. From July to August 1922 they held the city and county as part of the so-called Munster Republic. However, Cork was taken by troops of the Irish Free State in August 1922 in the Irish Free State offensive, that included both overland and seaborne attacks. For the remainder of the war, the county saw sporadic guerrilla fighting until the Anti-Treaty side called a ceasefire and dumped their arms in May 1923. Michael Collins, a key figure in the War of Independence, was born near Clonakilty and also assassinated during the civil war in Béal na Bláth by anti-treaty IRA forces, both in west Cork. A small white cross marks the spot where he fell.
Towns of Cork
Near the tip of the Beara Peninsula. This was the centre of a rich copper-minning district. Cornish workers were brought over in the 19th Century as technical experts and some remains of their ‘Cornish Village’ can still be seen. Around the workings you can pick up nice rocks glittering with pyrites – ‘fool’s gold’ – but please be extremely careful if exploring here as there are dangerous unguarded mineshafts and other hazards. The drive from here along the north coast of the peninsula to Eyeries and Ardgroom following the signposted ‘Ring of Beara Drive’ offers superb views of the coast and mountains of Iveragh, the peninsula across Kenmare Bay which contains the ‘Ring of Kerry’ tourist route.
Now a rapidly growing satellite town of Cork City. It had, during the last century, an enormous gunpowder mills, sited beside the River Lee. This has now been turned into a recreation area, and you can walk through the various old buildings and see thecanals which worked the grinding wells and carried materials from one place to another. An exhibition centre which deals with the Royal Gunpowder Mills has been opened by Cork County Council. Access to this is by the entrance to Powder mills from thecentre of Ballincollig.
Ballingeary is an Irish speaking area located in the West Muskerry Gaeltacht near the Shehy Mountains. In this area the river Lee widens out into a series of Lakes around which there is an attractive scenic drive. It is an important centre for languagetuition and there is a college located in the village where young people come to learn the Irish language.
The traditional farming community of Ballinhassig is situated on the N71 within 10km of Cork City. This gateway to West Cork offers visitors a full range of facilities including restaurants and pubs with free Irish entertainment. The area is known for road bowling and a thriving equestrian environment, featuring hunting, point-to-point meetings, gymkhanas, riding centres and horse breeders. Locally, a typical working Open Farm hosts a range of farm animals including unusual breeds, allowing adults andchildren firsthand views of farm life. The farm is signposted off the N71. The village of Halfway offers free access to an agricultural and transport museum displaying examples of machinery, vehicles and farming implements of a bygone era.
Ballycotton 30 minutes drive East of Cork city is a hilly fishing port much favoured by deep sea anglers. It offers fantastic views over a boat filled harbour to a steep island crowned by a lighthouse. There are cliff walks, and inland an extensive marshy bird sanctuary. Ballycotton also has its very own Hollywood connection. The famous actress Angela Langsbury from (Murder She Wrote) is a frequent visitor and a proud owner of a holiday home here. Marlon Brando spent some time here while filming the ill fated film Divine Rapture back in the early 1990’s
Travelling south-westerly on the R613 to Kinsale and West Cork, Ballygarvan is situated in the heart of the picturesque and peaceful Owenabue Valley. The unspoilt scenery with its wildlife, country lanes and the banks of the Owenabue River is a walking enthusiast’s dream. Amenities include pubs with traditional Irish music, restaurants, shops, a Post Office, Bureau de Change and accommodation. A custom-built clay pigeon shooting range increasingly welcomes visitors into the area. This local communityhas great sporting traditions in Gaelic Games and in the ancient game of Road Bowling. Centrally located, Ballygarvan is only a short distance from Cork Airport (2.5km) and Cork City (9km).
West of Fermoy in the Mallow direction is Ballyhooley, once a landlord village of Lord Listowel. Nearby lies Ballyhooley Castle. The large mansion at the end of the village was built by Countess Listowel in 1871 to `balance’ the street after the RomanCatholic Church had been erected in 1870 at the other side of the street. There are fine stud farms in this area.
Baltimore is an historic village of many parts – a fishing port and yachting centre, departure and arrival point for ferries serving Cape Clear and Sherkin Island, as well as having fine pubs and restaurants. The ruined castle which overlooks the harbour was a holding of the O’Driscolls, who were one of the most important clans in West Cork. They controlled the fishing of the area and could levy dues on all the fishing fleets who came to these rich fishing grounds. An extraordinary event in the history of the town was a raid in 1631 by Algerian pirates, when many of the inhabitants were slaughtered and about 200 others shipped off as slaves to North Africa. Baltimore has a reputation for fine boat building.
Bandon is the largest town in West Cork and is regarded as the gateway to West Cork. The Bandon River Valley has the finest agricultural land in West Cork and, in a clean, green environment is grown and reared the raw materials that form the ingredientsof the food fare for which the area is famous. The Bandon region is very popular with anglers as there is great salmon and trout fishing in the area. It was established by the Great Earl of Cork, Richard Boule, who acquired vast estates in Munster in 1608, having arrived from England with no more than twenty pounds, a diamond ring, a gold bracelet and his clothes.
Famous in song, Bantry Bay is of legendary beauty. Bantry, at the head of the bay, is a busy market town and fishing port. Bantry Bay was twice entered by French fleets: in 1689 to support James II against William of Orange and in 1796 to aid Wolfe Tone and an Irish uprising. A storm dispersed the 1796 fleet and few of the ships made the Bay. Bantry House, open to the public, is spectacularly situated and exuberantly furnished. It is one of Ireland’s most attractive Great Houses, full of treasures collected by various generations of Earls of Bantry from all parts of the world. In the courtyard of Bantry House, The French Armada Exhibition Centre has been developed. This features the ill-fated French Armada invasion of December, 1796.
Blarney is just 8Km from Cork City. Along with Killarney, Blarney is probably the best known and most visited place in Ireland. Blarney castle and it’s ‘Stone of Eloquence’ is the lure. There are good shopping opportunities for handcrafted goods of all kinds. Outside Blarney a small environmental park has been developed. Woodland walks have been opened up and a number of different species of animals can be seen.
Cape Clear Island
An 13km ferry boat trip form the picture postcard village of Baltimore, past Sherkin Island and Roaringwater Bay brings the visitor to the island of Cape Clear, a well known haven for yachtsmen, boatmen and deep sea fishing folk. This is a thriving Gaeltacht area where most of the 150 inhabitants speak both Irish and English. Irish summer schools are held on the island which, as the largest of Carberys hundred isles, is 5km long and 3km wide. October is a busy month for bird watchers – Cape Clear which has a bird observatory, is a bird watchers paradise, the Island has an abundance of accommodation, pubs and restaurants, craft shops and a museum and there is even a goat keeping course held on the island. A ferry service is also available.
Carrigaline is an ideal base for exploring Counties Cork and Kerry. The town is 12km from Cork City and 5km from Ringaskiddy Ferryport or Cork Airport. Famous for its pottery, Carrigaline is one of three satellite towns built around Cork City. It is the largest in the Owenabue Valley, offering the visitor a very comprehensive range of services and facilities. Currabinny Forest Trail is just a short distance east of Carrigaline and represents one of many scenic walks in Carrigaline and its environs. St John’s Holy Well on the outskirts of the town is a recognised historical landmark.
Carrigtwohill is a small town just off the main Cork/Youghal route. South of the town lies Barryscourt Castle, an important National Monument which is now open to the public.
Castlelyons (Cashlean ui Liathain), 9.6km South East from Fermoy, is a quiet rural village. The original Castlelyons Castle, over one acre in extent, was built here by the great O’Liathain Clan in 1010, but later passed into the hands of the Norman deBarry family, until it was destroyed by fire in 1790. Castlelyons is the birthplace of Thomas Kent, a Republican hero of the 1916 Rising, and a signatory of the Proclamation of Independence. East of Castlelyons in the direction of Tallow is Conna Castle built in 1560 by Thomas Ruadh Fitzgerald. Every June it is the scene of an musical concert and barbecue.
Castletownbere is the principle town on the Beara peninsula. It is the largest whitefish port in Ireland. Berehaven being the second largest natural harbour in the world, it is a safe anchorage for yachts and is ideal for watersports, from sea angling to windsurfing. Just outside the town is Berehaven Golf Club. This 9 hole golf club has magnificent views of Bere Island and Berehaven Harbour. The scenery really surpasses itself on the Ring of Beara, around Allihies, Ardgroom and Eyeries. If you have the energy, The Beara Way route has a multitude of choice for hikers of all abilities.
West of Glanworth lies Castletownroche on the Awbeg River, or the Mull River of Edmund Spencer’s Faerie Queen. Extinct mammoth reindeer and `Irish Elk’ remains were found in a limestone gorge here. The 13th c. Augustinian Bridgetown Abbey ruins are nearby. The abbey was once home to 300 monks and a medieval boarding school. In 1540 Henry VIII granted the abbey to an English soldier, Rob Brown. Castle Curious is 19th c. folly built by the local eccentric Johnny Roche, who also single-handedly built a wool mill and a flannel mill, made musical instruments and made false teeth out of cows hooves. He wrote his own epitaph:- “Here lies the body of Johnny Roche, He had his faults but don’t reproach, For when alive his heart was mellow”.
Castletownshend is a quaint village which provided inspiration for writers Somerville and Ross. The main street is a steep hill, which leads down past the castle to the waterfront and what can only be described as an idyllic setting.
A busy market town located near to several popular seaside resorts such as Inchadoney and Owenahincha. Fine 19th century mill buildings have been nicely adapted for modern use, and now house the town library and County Council offices. Nearby, a small disused Presbyterian Church has been put to service as the post office. Local planning authorities have encouraged the use of traditional hand painted signs with a special emphasis on the Irish language on business premises in the town. See also the finestatus of a pikeman. For a town of its size, the Roman Catholic Church is impressive, with fine glass and mosaics. The town centre is the home of the noted street theatre group Craic na Caoillte and the impressive Model Railway Village Project.
Cloyne a small and ancient cathedral town is especially well known through its strong associations with Bishop Berkeley the famous 18th century philosopher, born in Kilkenny. He was Bishop of Cloyne from 1734 to 1753. The origin of Cloyne can be tracedback to St. Colman in the 6th century who founded the See of Cloyne. An interesting feature at Cloyne is one of the places of refuge for Christian monks at times of attack and plunder.
This is in the Lee Valley and nearby is Farran Wood with deer and wild geese. It is part of the ancient barony of Muskerry and is rich in antiquites – stone circle, wedge tombs, ring forts. The Boggeragh mountains lie to the north and the leaflet ‘Antiquities of the Boggeragh Mountains’ will lead you on many a happy exploration. Between here and Macroom, travelling along the river, you’ll come to the ruined Carrigadrohid Castle standing on a rocky island. It survived several decades of stormy history. In 1650 Lord Broghill, the Commonwealth General, hanged the Bishop of Ross before it because he refused to induce the Irish garrison to surrender.
Cobh (pronounced ?cove’) is a relatively modern town on the eastern side of Cork Harbour, 15 miles (24 km) from Cork city. It is an important Irish port of call for cruise liners. Entering the harbour passengers have a fine view of the town, with its houses rising on a terraced hillside beneath the towering form of St Colman’s Cathedral.
Coolea is a little village lying between quiet hills in the Lee Valley. The village was the birthplace of Sean O Riada, a popular and well known musician, who played a major role in the revival of Irish Traditional music – music which is now enjoyed by audiences worldwide.
Cork – the Rebel city – is the second largest city in Ireland, with a population of 175,000. The name of the city comes from the Irish word for marsh – Corcaigh. Saint Finbarr founded a monastery here around 650AD, and is the patron saint of the city. It’s narrow alley ways, waterways and Georgian architecture helps to give the city a genuine continental feel. Cork became a base in the 19th century for the National Fenian Movement, and thus gained the title of the Rebel City. Each year it holds the world famous Jazz Festival, a lively weekend attracting jazz enthusiasts and fun seekers from all corners. Some famous sites include the Shandon Bells, Saint Finbarr’s Cathedral, the City Gaol, and the nearby Blarney Castle and Cobh Harbour.
Crosshaven is an historic fishing village and also headquarters of the Royal Cork Yacht Club, reputed to be oldest club in the world. Nearby are fine beaches such as Fountainstown and Myrtleville, to mention just two. Also noted for water-based activities is Monkstown, just down the road from Passage West. It is one of the terminals of the cross river car ferry service, linking it with Cobh and the East Cork area.
Doneraile village and Doneraile Estate were once part of Edmund Spencer’s estate. Spencer became famous as a poet, best known for his `Faerie Queene’, but the Irish remembered him as a pitiless tyrant whose tenants starved on his lands. The beautiful estate is now Doneraile Forest Park which offers the visitor 160 Hectares of open parkland, mature woods and riverside walks. There is a herd of wild Irish Red and Sika Deer here and many rare broad leafed trees. The walled Parteen garden dates from the 18th c. The ruins of Spensers Kilcolman Castle, (1580) may be seen here.
Drimoleague nestles peacefully on the banks of river Ruggagh, a tributary of the Ilen river, which flows into Skibereen. Drom-Dha-Liagh means the ridge or back of two flag stones. A few hundred yards from the village is the famine memorial on the siteof the famine pit. The old village of Drimoleague was referred to as Bothar Srufawn. It was situated on both sides of the rock road, due north of the present village. Drimoleague has a converted mill now an artistic centre worth seeing. There are some nice hill-walking routes near by.
Dunmanway has a public indoor swimming pool, bounded by a very impressive recreation and play area. It is central to most areas of West Cork and, therefore, a good base to tour from.
Fermoy on the river Blackwater, 35km north east of Cork city, has a charming environment. For the sporting tourist the main attraction is the excellent salmon fishing on the Blackwater, and angling for trout in several of the tributary streams, the course fishing is also very good, and the Blackwater River system is the only one in Ireland holding roach and dace. Fermoy also has an 18 hole golf course.
Turning off at Rosscarbery, there is a nice drive to Glandore, which is a popular centre for yachting, with some pleasant pubs and a hotel overlooking the waterfront, making it an ideal haven for sailors and landlubbers alike to unwind. Across the waterfrom Glandore, and linked to it by a fascinating bridge, is the busy fishing port of Union Hall, a colourful village, well worth a stroll around.
Glanmire is a quaint village nestling on an inlet of Lough Mahon (upper Cork Harbour). Nearby the historic houses of Dunkathel and Riverstown are open to the public.
An excursion to Glanworth is worthwhile for its views of the River Funcheon, its natural setting and pleasant walks in the nearby Araglin Valley. In the village are the ruins of 3 churches. The extensive ruins of the old Roche Castle here are currentlybeing restored. In 1200 this was the scene of single combat between the rivals for the hand in marriage of Amice, daughter (and heiress) of Sir William Fleming, a Norman Knight. Sir Wm. Condon, his suit being refused, surrounded the Castle with an armed troop. Richard Roche and his followers arrived, and a fight ensued in which Condon was killed and Roche won the lady’s hand, and the estate, forever.
The name comes from “An Gleann Garbh” – the rugged glen – which is derived from the rugged beauty of the mountains and wooded valleys surrounding the village. Magnificent views of the Caha Mountains and the bulk of Sugarloaf can be seen from the numerous viewpoints along the roads which hug the coastline or wind along the steep sided valleys. No introduction to Glengarriff would be complete without mention of Garnish Island – Ireland’s most outstanding garden island with its internationally famous collection of plants and world-renowned for its Italian Gardens.
Glenville is a Monor Village circa 1799/1800. It is situated in a beautiful setting. It is 12 miles from Cork. One side of this village is bordered by a Famine Wall. Other historical and archaeological sites include: A Famine Road 1 mile open to the public This road leads directly to Doonpeter, a pre-Christian ring fort. A Famine Burial Ground and Holy well A Mass rock hidden in a very beautiful valley
Goleen is a pretty village in a loverly setting on the road to Mizen Head, where the Mizen Vision project is worth daring to cross the lofty bridge to the former lighthouse keepers’ quarters. Barleycove beach is one of the finest in all Ireland and, notfar away, is the laid back ambience of Crookhaven village. Coming back from the Mizen, it is worth turning off for Durrus to travel along the southern shore of Dunmanus Bay. There, one may head straight for Bantry or take the scenic route back through Ahakista and Kilcrohane, via Sheep’s Head Peninsula.
This lake, the source of the River Lee, is set amid magnificent mountain scenery with brooding cliffs rising above the dark waters. In the lake is a tiny island connected to the mainland by an artificial causeway. The island was the site of the hermitage of Saint Finbarr, patron saint of Cork. Nothing now remains of this early building but there is a relatively modern chapel build about 1900. It is built of local sandstone and has a head of Saint Finbarr inset above the richly-carved doorway.
A market town set astride the Dalua and Allow Rivers – Spencer mentions them in his ‘Faerie Queene’. Just outside the town is the huge shell of a fortified house, Kanturk Castle or MacDonagh’s Court, i.e. MacDonagh MacCarthy, the local Irish chief. The story is that when the English Privy Council heard of the elaborate structure, they decided ‘it was much too large for a subject’ and had the work stopped. MacCarthy, in a rage, scattered the blue glass tiles which were to roof it. So there it stands, almost five centuries later still unfinished, but firm. It is now the property of An Taisce, the National Trust for Ireland.
Kildorrery is a village on the Mitchelstown to Mallow road. It is most associated with the novelist Elizabeth Bowen, who lived at Bowen’s Court in nearby Farahy village, and is buried in Farahy graveyard. About 4km NE, on the North side of the Funcheonin Aghacross are Saint Molga’s Well and Church. Near the village of Kildorrery is Ballyhoura Mountain Park a natural park of woodland, rugged mountain, grouse moors and peat bog, with its wild plants and berries, covering an area of approx. 10,000 hectares. There are marked walks and nature trails, and the park facilitates bird watching, orienteering, or simply wandering freely! It’s signposted off the R512 from Kildorrery.
The house on the cliff overlooking the bridge here is Ballymacoy House, one-time resident of the Hennessey family of Hennesey Cognac fame. Killavullen caves are located under the house. Some interesting rock carvings can be seen by the cave entrance near the river. 1.6km from Killavullen is the birthplace of Nano Nagle, foundress of the Presentation Order of nuns.
8km North of Fermoy off main Dublin Road, Kilworth grew as a staging-post for Bianconi’s horse coaches in the 18th c., and was the main town in the area before Fermoy developed. Along this route Willy Brennan the highwayman (`Brennan on the Moors’) earned his living the easy way. The 18th c. Market House in the square is now an excellent craft centre. The Catholic Church here is one of the oldest continually used in Ireland. Glenseskin Wood offers well-signposted walks of 2km, 6.4km and 9.6km, from the car park with its beautiful stream and picnic lawn rising to the fine views at Gorse Lodge. There are well-surfaced pathways and rustic bridges. There is much natural animal and plant life.
For centuries, Kinsale has been a haven from the sea for travellers and traders alike. Their influence has made Kinsale the most cosmopolitan and charming parts in Ireland. But where Britons, Spaniards and Irish once fought, yachts now disgorge their sailors to sample “fruits de la mer” in the old world atmosphere of Ireland’s Gourmet Capital. Sample the history of the “Wild Geese” in Ireland’s only international Wine Museum in Desmond Castle and the history and crafts of Kinsale in the historic courthouse. (Kinsale – meaning Tide Head).
Leap is a village noted for hosting rock bands and racehorses! The Central Track is used for trotting and sulkey racing, two horse racing disciplines which are fairly unique to the West Cork area
Liscarroll is dominated by its 13th century Norman Castle, which is a spectacular building in size (it is the third largest of its kind in Ireland) and in being almost intact. Covering an area of about 2,500 sq. mtrs. (0.6 acres) it has circular towers at the corners and a fine gatehouse, and its walls in places reach 12m (40ft.) above the village. In 1641 English forces held out in the castle for almost two weeks against the repeated attacks of an Irish army of 7,000 foot soldiers and 500 cavalry backed up by artillery before surrendering. The delay allowed Lord Inchiquin to assemble an army sufficient to attack and defeat the Irish and the castle was back in English hands within another week.
Macroom is a busy market town in the valley of the Sullane River. The Gateway which is all that remains of Macroom Castle is interesting and in fact, the town were once owned by Admiral Sir William Penn, whose son founded Pennsylvania. There is a small museum with a collection of mainly folk material. 5km west of Macroom, to the left of the main road, in a picturesque setting, Carrigaphooca Castle stands on a rock above the trees. The ‘pooca’ is a malicious spirit who haunted this fairy tale place.
Mallow on the river Blackwater 35km north of Cork city, is a sugar manufacturing centre in the middle of a rich agricultural region. For centuries the place was an important ford in the blackwater, and up to a century ago its spa drew crowds of visitors,some of whom gave the town a certain notoriety, if the popular song the Rakes Of Mallow is anything to go by. Mallow was the birthplace of many famous people, including the patriot poet Thomas Davis and William O Brien, MP. The writer Cannon Sheehan, went to school here with William O Brien. Mallow is well known as an angling and hunting centre, there is also a race course and golf. In the town itself the picturesque half timbered Clock House, the Spa Well and the Old Mallow Castle are worth seeing.
The origins of the historic town of Midleton go back to 1180 AD when the Cistercian monks established a monastery here on the banks of the Owenacurra River. The location of Midleton on rich agricultural land resulted in the development of related industrial activity – the distilling of Irish whiskey. Now a major visitor centre in the town, it traces the history of Irish whiskey back to 1825 when the Murphy family first opened their distillery. Midleton is also a busy shopping centre with a great variety of shops and the diversion of heavy traffic away from the town centre some years ago has added greatly to the ambience of the town.
Mitchelstown, just 48km from Cork City, is set at the foothills of the Galtee Mountains, in the beautiful countryside of Ireland’s Blackwater Valley. The town’s name derives from Saint Michael, the patron saint of the Condon Family, who lived hereaboutsin medieval times. It is an important example of a planned town and was laid out primarily by the 1st and 3rd Earls of Kingston in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. Their family, the King family, had acquired the town through the marriage of Sir John King, 1st Baron Kingston, to the heir of the Earl of Desmond’s estates.
Situated about 1km from Dun Laoghaire on the main road to Dublin, Monkstown derives from the cistercian Monks who arrived in the twelfth century and built Monkstown Castle, which can still be viewed today. In the centre of the village is Monkstown church, built in a unique Moorish Gothic Style, the Church was claimed by John Betjeman as his favourite Victorian church and is well worth a visit. Arching away from the church is the very attractive Monkstown crescent, with charming Edwardian villas on one side and with Gourmet restaurants, fashion boutiques and vintage wines. For the thirsty traveller, Goggins Pub beckons. The Lambert Puppet Theatre is situated in Clifton Terrace.
From the tourist point of view, Newmarket town and the surrounding countryside of Duhallow is best known for its rich traditional music and dance. The Irish refer to the tradition and area as ‘Sliabh Lucahra’ or Rushy Mountain. Weekly or twice weekly traditional set dancing or music sessions are held locally all year round. Sarah Curran, the sweetheart of Robert Emmett’s [The historic Irish rebel leader] is buried here in the Church of Ireland. Emmett himself was hanged, drawn and quartered in Dublin after the failed Rising of 1803. This area was originally McAuliffe clanland, but in 1615 it passed into the hands of the Aldworth family from Berkshire. Nearby the Island Wood is mapped for orienteering, with picnic tables and walking routes.
Rosscarbery is a small historic town set in picturesque surroundings overlooking a sandy inlet of the rugged West Cork coastline. The town grew up around a monastery, which was established by Saint Fachtna in the latter half of the sixth century. It is now a peaceful place with an attractive square, which is busy in summer when crowds flock to nearby beaches such as Owenahincha and The Warren. There are also water-based activities in the lagoon below the village. For the historian there are many places to visit such as Castlefreke, Rathbarry, Coppingers Court etc.
Schull is a bustling village with lots of character and popular self-catering houses and apartments attracting large crowds there to take part in sailing and other water-based activities. Schull Community College has a unique attraction in the form of a planetarium and is a landing and departure point for various islands.
Shanagarry overlooking Ballycotton Bay is the home of a major international Cookery School, and one of Ireland’s leading pottery and craft centres. The original home of William Penn, the founder of Pennsylvania is located at Shanagarry, and the Penn story is to be the centre of a major new visitor attraction in the area.
Just 5 minutes from the quaint village of Shanballymore (off the N.73) is Oldtown House, a 200 year old Georgian House on the banks of the Awbeg River. Oldtown House is now a guesthouse which combines river fishing with log fires, a family-run stud farm(stallions, broodmares and foals bred for racing and show jumping), and access to tennis, golf, and horse-riding.
Skibbereen is a lively, cosmopolitan town and is regarded as the hub of the tourism area that spreads out in many directions from it. It is noted for shops, pubs and restaurants, as well being home of the West Cork Arts Centre, where many artists who inhabit the area show their work and where top touring exhibitions are featured. From Skibbereen, there are many options for touring, as the town is the gateway to the Mizen Peninsula and other areas of note.
Whitegate is a small attractive village located on the eastern shores of Cork Harbour. Nearby is the Holiday village of Trabolgan with its sub-tropical swimming paradise. This was the ancestral home of the Roche family. There are panoramic views of Cork Harbour from Fort Carlisle, which towers over the village of Whitegate. An alternative scenic route to Whitegate is by East Ferry Coast Road.
Youghal, where the past meets the present at the mouth of the River Blackwater, is an historic walled port and a modern seaside resort. Youghal Visitor Centre offers a unique starting point from which to explore the exciting history of the town. Guided walking tours direct the visitor through the most notable areas. Following in the footsteps of Sir Walter Raleigh, Edmund Spenser and Sir Richard Boyle, the visitor is taken through the medieval streets. Spanned by the 18th century clock tower, these have Victorian shop fronts standing shoulder to shoulder with 13th century and 16th century dwellings. (Youghal – meaning Yew Tree).